Spring is in full swing these days, and is rapidly giving way to an early summer. With temperatures soaring into the eighties and creeping up to ninety, I find myself enjoying the activity of the birds outside the cabin who come and go as the day’s temperature rises.
Last week I watched the neighborhood birds shifting positions and locations as they flew between the oaks around our cabin. A Lesser Goldfinch flew onto a leafless branch at the top of one large oak, which is a popular perch, displacing another finch. Then an Olive-sided Flycatcher, most likely the one I have previously observed in the area, chased it away and took over the perch. The postures of both birds is very similar. Is it the influence of the perch, or evidence of the dominance of the bird?
There is a family of four goslings along with assorted adult geese at the pond where I take my daily walk. They are quite entertaining to watch, as the two parent Canada geese shepherd their little ones back and forth across the water, with an apparently female Chinese goose supervising activities.
Auntie seems to play a pivotal role. I discovered that Chinese geese are useful as “guards”. Here is an interesting article about a Chinese goose that adopted Canadian goslings at a rescue site. They appear to be adept in the same role as the sheep dog: herding.
A visitor dropped by this morning who looked familiar. I had gone outside in search of a distinct call near my window, and discovered this friendly songbird perched on an unoccupied bird house. It kept an eye on me until a pal approached, and they flew away together.
Later this afternoon the bird returned, and I was able to photograph it as it roamed the area. I identified it as an Olive-sided Flycatcher. It is listed by the US government and national conservation organizations as a species of concern due to its habitat requirements.
These songbirds will use logged forests instead of their preferred habitat, post-burn forests, which have elements that are not present in a cut over forest. The population of this species has declined considerably over the last eighty years.
I enjoyed the visit. It has been many years since I have seen this flycatcher. Their distinctive call reminds me of a melodic drip. Hopefully this charming bird will continue to thrive.
The Chestnut-backed Chickadee that I captured in this photo from last year has a stance so similar to a hawk’s that it inspired me to write a children’s story. After attending the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) Spring Spirit Conference in Citrus Heights, California last Saturday, I am inspired to find and tell a tale. I spent hours doing research this week, and learned a lot about this songbird’s habits and habitat.
The raptor that I fancy this chickadee imitates is the Red-shouldered Hawk. I photographed the local resident with whom I am acquainted this past winter in a typical pose. The research part of my writing process is so much fun, learning about the natural histories of these avian wonders, that I have to remind myself to finish telling my story. These birds have so much personality and energy, and their gaze is so intent, that they appear to be in sinc. The photos say it all.
April is showering where I live, and my Spring Fever is raging. The birds around my home are turning up the volume, and I am on the prowl to locate and identify them. This task has become more difficult now that the bare winter branches are decked out in fresh spring greenery.
First thing this morning, as I stood on the porch meditating on my surroundings after a week away, I heard a familiar humming and clicking. I wandered around until I spotted a hummingbird feeding on the blooming groundcover that surrounds the cabin. The lavendar flowers are just the ticket for a bird with a suitable bill.
I took several photos before I got close enough to capture a couple of decent shots. I just love hummingbirds. They have such cute little feet. This one appears to be a female Anna’s. I hope there is a nearby nest. I will be listening and watching, so this story is just beginning.
Last week, while it was still officially winter, the weather was sunny and warm. The birds around the cabin where we live in the Sierra foothills were making quite a ruckus. Now that spring has sprung, the weather has turned wet and cooler. The only sounds that I heard outside yesterday were rain and wind.
I took a photo captured last week and sketched it to remind myself that although we need the rain, the sun and the birds will return. Then I added a little springtime color with gouache. My illustration is now in need of a story.
What would this Oak Titmouse have to say if it could communicate with us?
Not long ago I read that television viewing is a major hindrance to the writing process. While I agree with this, some television viewing is helpful to the rumination process. The other night I was engrossed in The Man in the Moon, a coming-of-age story that I missed seeing when it came out in 1991. I must have been otherwise occupied with my three young children.
I am rewriting the novel that I wrote during NaNoWriMo 2011 and published as an e-book. In my quest to see the fruit of my labors in black and white on the World Wide Web (tada!) I rushed the process. I tried to say too much too fast.
Taking several steps back is helping me to simplify the story I am trying to tell. I believe that the simple, classic plot of The Man in the Moon helped me to see and appreciate the beauty of simplicity. I highly recommend it.
It is the tale of sisters living in rural Louisiana during a summer in the 1950s. They both fall in love with the same boy, who solves their dilemma by dying in a tractor accident. It is both heartbreaking and comforting, and is a realistic portrayal of family life and the conflicting emotions of adolescence.
Here in Nevada County, California, the Sierra Writers sponsor a contest for local high school students each year. The deadline is April 1st. Spread the word!
I watched some ducks feeding the other day, and it was hilarious. Can you imagine what it would be like to eat this way? It might be fun, especially in warm weather. No worrying about table manners. No dirty dishes. I’m not certain, however, that I would enjoy waving my tail in the air.